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By David Sharp
Highland and Knox County’s boys had one of their better quarters of the season during their January 10, 2020 quest for the boys consolation championship of the 2020 Highland Varsity Basketball Tournament.
The Cougars (5-7) caught fire from the field during the fourth quarter, outscoring Knox County (4-8) by a 24-11 margin for a 48-47 win. Dalton Klocke canned a Highland three pointer with 35 seconds to play in the game, providing the winning margin.
Both teams showed improvement. Knox County had a solid night rebounding the ball. The taller Eagles likely got the better of their hosts in the lane. Knox County held a 15-13 margin in terms of made field goals at the end of the night.
Both teams were .500 or better from the free throw line. Knox County went 5-7 from the line while Highland sank four of eight from the charity stripe. The Cougars defended well in the half court. Knox County turnovers were part of the determining factors.
Both sides also showed an ability to score during sustained runs. Highland took an early 6-1 lead when Alex Meyer cashed in a Knox County turnover with 2:36 to play in the first quarter.
Rylan Roberts answered with a KCHS three point play. Highland led 6-4 at the first break. Neither team scored in the final 2:12 of the first period.
Justin Hawkins took the ball to the hole for a pair of early second quarter Cougar buckets. Dalton Klocke gave Highland a 15-7 lead with a three ball at the three minute mark of the second quarter.
Knox County closed the first half on a 7-0 run. Highland led 15-14 at the half. Knox County defended well, reeling off a 17-2 run including the end of the second quarter. Knox County took a 27-17 lead with 4:30 showing on the third quarter clock.
The Eagles scored in the lane and hit the defensive boards. Highland missed numerous scoring chances in the third quarter. Knox County outscored the Cougars 22-9 in the second quarter.
“We did a good job rebounding,” Eagle coach Zach Short said. “The problem was we got a rebound and we just gave it right back. I think our rebounding has improved tremendously from the beginning of the season.”
“We were able to collect their misses,” Zach Short said. “That was a big reason we were able to hold them to 48 points.”
The Eagles led by 15 points when Jacob Becker scored with 36 seconds to play in the period. Highland started to make perimeter shots they had missed in the third period. Dalton Klocke rattled in a three ball at the buzzer, trimming the Knox County lead to 36-24 entering the fourth quarter.
Alex Meyer lit the fuse for a 15-4 Highland run with a three at the 6:40 mark of the fourth quarter. Dalton Klocke nailed a three pointer, then stole the ball and scored for a 40-39 Eagle lead with 2:31 to play in the game.
“Right now we are better at losing games than winning games,” Knox County coach Zach Short said after an admittedly tough loss. “It comes down to turnovers. We knew Highland would go on a run.”
“It’s their home gym in a great atmosphere. (Dalton) Klocke hit one,” Zach Short said. “They hit some clutch shots. We didn’t really get into our stuff the way we wanted to. Early in the fourth (quarter) we were able to eat some clock and get some good looks. Two turnovers under the hoop and another on an inbounds play. We need to learn how to win. It’s slow coming this year.”
Knox County turnovers at critical points of the contest fueled the Highland rally. After two Conner Hayes free throws with 1:04 remaining, Robert Goehl scored off a Knox County turnover under their own defensive basket.
“It’s a tough loss,” Coach Short said. “Maybe we will learn from it, but I’m sick of learning these type of lessons. I think it is time to learn how to win these games.
Alex Meyer pulled Highland within a 44-42 deficit with a free throw at the 54 second mark of regulation. Knox County turned the ball over in front of their bench. Dalton Klocke sank the key home run ball with 35 ticks on the clock for a 45-44 Highland lead.
“I knew we just had to keep on fighting,” Highland senior Dalton Klocke said. “We wanted to get back into it. We wanted to win because this is our tournament. At least the consolation.”
“We have really came together and started shooting the ball better,” Dalton Klocke said. “We have a lot of younger kids on our team. We have three sophomores starting. It takes a little bit to come together as a team when you are in those different grades.”
“I think we have started to come together and get our flow.”
Dylan Schroeder sank another free throw for a 46-44 edge with 21 seconds to play in the game. Knox County turned the ball over again. Alex Meyer sank two clutch free throws for a 48-44 lead with 4.7 seconds remaining.
Coltin Morrow tossed in a three pointer from near half court as time ran down. The clock hit double zeros with Highland on top of a 48-47 final score.
Highland scored half their total points in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Eagles by a 24-11 margin in the final eight minutes. Dalton Klocke scoring a game high 16 points.
Conner Hayes scored his team leading 15 points in the second half. Klocke dropped ten fourth quarter points on the Eagles.
Trent Klocke scored 12 Knox County points. Braydon Miller put in eight points. Rylan Roberts scored six KCHS points. Coltin Morrow scored four points and Jacob Becker added two points.
“They are starting to figure it out,” Highland coach Brock Butler said. “When you get deflections in the half-court defense, that leads to easy points on the offensive end. They told me we needed to turn things up on the defensive end of the floor. That’s are what we are going to do.”
“They are going to get after it. We have to rebound better,” Brock Butler said. “We gave up too many offensive rebounds tonight. They play 110% of the time. They never give up.”
“They were down 15 tonight and they rallied back,” Brock Butler said. “It was a good team win. It’s always good to get one on your home court.”
Drew Mallett scored nine Highland points. Alex Meyer put in eight Cougar points. Justin Hawkins scored six points. Dylan Schroeder tallied five points. Robert Goehl added two Highland points.